Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chicken and Biscuits

Since it's the first even remotely non-hot day, I decided I'd finally break in the dutch oven I got over the summer.  I've been dreaming of chicken stew and biscuits for several days now. It was worth the cooking time.

For exercise, I walked about 3.5 miles. Those errands add up when you're on-foot. The weather was perfect here in the city, too. It was about 65 degrees and sunny-- just cool enough that I didn't feel the least bit hot outside. There was a pleasant breeze, too.

Organic Oat O's cereal with frozen berries (defrosted, of course) and skim milk

Canadian bacon and cheese sandwich on TJ's sandwich rounds, with mustard, fresh spinach and tomato

Macintosh apple with natural peanut butter

Chicken stew and whole wheat biscuits. It was definitely rustic: skin-on red potatoes (I'm not a big potato fan, but prefer the waxier ones when I do eat them), chunks of carrot and fresh, whole green beans. I used a combo of chicken and vegetable stock and used chicken breast tenders for the meat. I cooked them in the stock until they were just done, then shredded the meat and added them again at the end until they were just heated through, to ensure they didn't dry out from being overcooked (non-fatty meat doesn't like a long cook time).

I was feeling experimental on thickening the stew. Whole wheat flour isn't something you want to make a roux out of, especially for something so mild as chicken, so my brain went to work before my hands did. I decided I'd have a few options handy. I ended up employing all of them, but some more successful than others.

My initial idea was to try protein powder (soy). I made a small slurry, but it seemed to separate easily under heat, until stirred. I also had an extra potato (small, red)-- since it was of the waxy variety, it wasn't the best, but it did get a bit thicker, once I'd mashed after cooking. Still not quite satisfied with its thickness (I didn't want to go straight reduction or the flavor would have been too strong), it hit me. Lentils! I had some tiny, red lentils. They lose their color upon cooking, so I knew they'd be just right. I added a handful, let them cook until soft, then blended. This also nicely incorporated the onions. It made the gravy a little dark for a chicken stew, but was otherwise perfect. I left the veggies chunky- I love to mash the carrots and potatoes together when eating them. They were just at the perfect softness when all was said and done, too.

The biscuits were a straight-up triumph. As a last-minute addition, I added a splash of apple cider vinegar with the milk, making it more of a buttermilk. They were the fluffiest, tastiest whole wheat biscuits I've ever made. Put it all together and it was one satisfying, healthy meal.

I made 4 biscuits. I'll likely have a second one with some jam for dessert! They're still warm, after all. I also have plenty of leftover stew for meals this week and a couple in the freezer.


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